Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Commercial at Broadway

guitar breezes strum 
upon the pummel of the street noise hum –  
in the snarl of cars and bikes and buses 
and the whooping rattle of skateboards

in the weedy reeds rolling fast, 
past the hammering of some machine  
pounding to make something better:
against the heavenly harp chords.
on the teeming grit gray sidewalks  
sliced with dark, stark struggling trees, 
some people stand, 
and some folks sit, 
and some are on their knees.

always, the whooshing
whistle stop shriek clamor  
of the sky train coming in or leaving

with the down-and-out / up-and-about,  
doubting, hoping and believing.

some of them are passing through
and some are there to stay –  
Cue the Music 
Dim the Lights, next stop:

Commercial at Broadway. 

note:  Commercial Drive at Broadway in Vancouver, is a local transit hub for the Expo and Millennium Sky Train Lines and numerous buses.  It is a mixed residential-commercial area and is very, very diverse.  Because of the thousands of people who live and pass through it every day, it is often filled with the music of street musicians and buskers. 

photos:  Scenes from Commercial Drive in Vancouver 

© 2014 Wendy Bourke


  1. First of all, I love these black & white photos, especially that first one! That is just way cool. And I think you expressed the street sound, grit and music so great. You nailed "place" in this piece!

  2. I especially like the way you have shared the sounds of the city here. The skateboard sound, the train whistle, the guitar breezes. I can definitely feel myself right here at Commercial Drive at Broadway!

  3. Thanks, Jennifer. You always give my day a boost. The first picture, is of a musician on Commercial, that I came upon by following the strains of his wonderful music - as I felt the glimmer of a poem starting to take shape. I was contemplating (whilst clutching my camera) whether it would be too intrusive to take a picture, when he suddenly flicked his head up at me, smiled, gave the brim of his hat a little tug downwards and kept playing without missing a beat. I took that as a signal that he was OK with it.

  4. And thank you, Mary. Commercial Drive is a real feast for the senses, that's for sure.

  5. You have to know ~~ you took me there.

  6. A neat description --I would not have guessed Vancouver, but then I guess most big cities have a similar flavor. Love the detail you put in this! Thanks for sharing this.

  7. Sometimes, I can hardly believe it's Vancouver! It has changed a lot since the first time I laid eyes upon it - 40 some odd years ago.

  8. Quite the contrast to where I live. I could hear the sounds and feel the energy. Thanks for a trip to the city today! I enjoyed both your word pictures and your black and white images.

  9. And thank you, Donna, for the lovely, idyllic respite from your Winter Window - on your blog. Smiles.

  10. ha. its a cool piece...i like the energy and motion...the music of where you live...between the real music and the trains....yeah, i love that...i wanna visit now....smiles.

  11. The energy of life, the rhythm of the city, beautifully captured and so full of life. Well Done.

  12. My bags are packed! I'm heading to Commercial at Broadway! With the flow of your poem you brought your world to us! I'm always hesitant to try to take pictures of people passing by, so I like that the musician gave you a tip of his hat as an acknowledgment that it was okay.

  13. Great evocation of city life through the Commercial Drive at Broadway. Your use of sounds is most effective.

  14. Thanks for commenting, Brian, Alan, Robyn and Gabriella.

  15. And thanks to all who commented on the photos. It is awkward, sometimes, knowing whether to take a picture or not (particularly when people are going to be in it) – and especially when it works so well with a poem. I try to stick with uplifting (and as much as possible) facially anonymous pictures and stay away from direct shots, black white photos are a bit softer somehow and, of course, cool hats help.

    All in all, from start to finish this poem was a lot of fun. It was a great prompt from Poetry Jam.

  16. I love all the details here, the energy, the sounds. And, yes, great photos.

  17. Wendy, what a wonderful combination of words and images. Love that photo of the guitarist! "whooping rattle of skateboards" made me smile, lots of great noisy phrases :-) Thank you for the visit to my blog

  18. Thank you - And Welcome, Robyn and Sara.

  19. what a wonderful world you live in...enjoyed the trip thoroughly....and thanks for the
    inspiring comment @ my blog :)

  20. Thank you, Sumana. I have come to realize (somewhat late in life) that whatever world one finds oneself in - music and poetry help restore a bit of wonder . . . at least for awhile. Smiles.